|2012 06 12 Department of Basic Education ‘will accept legal action over posts|
THE Department of Basic Education confirmed on Tuesday that it would not oppose legal action seeking to compel it to fill vacant teacher posts in the Eastern Cape, a move that would come as a relief to schools, some of which had spent six months to a year with unfilled positions.
The 2012 Post-Provisioning Process in the province, through which teachers are allocated to schools as needed, has proved a stumbling block for teaching and learning.
Efforts to relocate 7947 excess teachers met resistance from unions, while the re-employment of 4500 temporary teachers was seen as financially untenable.
Vacant posts saw the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) file an application in the Eastern Cape High Court this month, on behalf of the Centre for Child Law, the governing bodies of four Eastern Cape schools and the Bethelsdorp School governing body unit.
The applicants are arguing that the failure to implement the post establishment process has led to many schools being placed in a situation of "crisis and financial peril" with schools taking steps to fill teacher posts at their own expense.
Basic education spokeswoman Hope Mokgatlhe said on Tuesday that the department's director-general, Bobby Soobrayan, was in the province as part of the talks with unions over post provisioning.
She also said the department's legal team would discuss the "way forward" with the provincial education department, which was then likely to result in an out-of-court settlement with the applicants.
Sarah Sephton, the regional director of the LRC in Grahamstown, said the applicants would welcome an agreement if it came with, among other things, progress reports in filling of vacant posts, and a "timeous" declaration on next year's post establishment for teaching and nonteaching staff.
Mncekeleli Ndongeni, Eastern Cape provincial secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union, said the union would take part in the negotiations over post provisioning, but that all 4500 temporary teachers should be reinstated as agreed at the start of the year.
Contrary to reports, he said, the union was not "resisting" the movement of excess teachers, but believed an overly formulaic "counting of heads" in relocating teachers would do a disservice to teachers and pupils, and was the reason post provisioning had failed in the past.
The department lacked adequate personnel to "scientifically" relocate teachers, something that was only done effectively in "well to do" areas of the Eastern Cape, Mr Ndongeni said.
Eastern Cape education department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said Mr Soobrayan, the director-general, was in the province to help with the "fine-tuning" of proposals aimed at reducing the 91% expenditure on staff to the national norm of about 80%.
In the short term, however, dispensation will be sought from the provincial government to allow for temporary appointments to 1900 critical and permanent high-level posts, such as principals.